Feng Shui Q & A: Feeling Pressure To Be Happy All The Time
A reader sent a really heartfelt question about her quest for happiness and self esteem that she told me I could share because it really shed a lot on issues we all feel sometimes:
“Hi, I found your page a few weeks ago and get your emails. I have really enjoyed each email that you send. I have been for a very long time trying to find my inner happiness, joy and blessings, to love myself and fight my fear of being a failure. I have had a hard time with it, everything that I want to be. I just can’t seem to be. I want to be happy, love myself, have a high self-esteem, to find my purpose and more. But instead I’m negative, and sad, I read your blogs as well as others and read self help books, pray meditate and all. But nothing nothing works. How can I get past this so I can live a life that brings me happiness and fulfill myself? I’m sad and depressed and it doesn’t help that I’m dealing with a recent breakup, that for the life of me I can’t seem to let go and forget. I’m tired of being negative, thinking negative and speaking negative. How can I pursue my life if I don’t love myself? How can begin to really love myself and find my life purpose? I thank you for reading this and any advice you can give me.”
My response, which was hardly an answer:
I’m not a life expert, but you might want to take the pressure off of yourself to be happy!
I know that there are a lot of “happiness” and “spirituality” experts out there that are into the idea of radical happiness every second. That sounds horrible to me, and its very unrealistic.
I had a talk with a Buddhist priest at my temple when I was going through a dark year, 2011. I almost died, my mom died suddenly without warning and everything was backward. Sorry for the melodramatic sentence but this is what was going on. He reminded me of a passage in the Gosho texts that says, ” Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy.” Both suffering and joy are parts of life. It made sense to me- and was a huge relief- because in all of my suffering I started to feel that there was something deeper “wrong” with me- like I was intrinsically cursed or broken or not “positive” enough or not virtuous enough, and so all this darkness was falling on me. I started spinning out on the fact that I had to suffer because I picked up all these cultural ideas about needing to be dramatically happy, and that if I was negative, upset, etc, that I was a bad person and my life would need to halt until I was dramatically happy.
Ultimately, actively doing things – even basic chores- helped me, personally, to get through the wilds of suffering. Thinking too much wasn’t doing me any good.
We all get tired, we all get sad… but you are reaching for inspiration and finding joy in them.
I also talked at length to my old and wise cognitive behavioral therapist about the idea of “loving yourself” and its really abstract. I can tell you 50 things I am not pleased with about me, and 50 things I love. So, do I break even?! My self-esteem is pretty great, but I am not wholly enthralled by everything about me.
Don’t let this abstract idea of loving yourself keep you from doing things that interest you. You don’t need to be bouncing off the walls in joy every second- that’s not real. If we were not sad sometimes, there would be no happy.
But…if you are actually sad in a way that is interfering with your life in any way, note that my words are not expert words. A trained and qualified therapist can help you sort some of this out. Nothing I say replaces that of a doctor, and depression is a very real thing. Awesome therapists can rock your world!
I am wishing you peace and stability… and yes, joy! (but it doesn’t have to be every second of the day 🙂 )